Little Bike Runs

The red bike is ready,
Poised,
Suzuki Intruder 800,
Saddlebags swelling with gear,
“T” bag sagging with clothes
Tent wobbling on the back.

Cold starting the small motor turns
Easily.
Lifting her barely above idle
I crawl out of Wawa
And point her to Nipigon.
Two Harbors 800 miles behind,
Two Harbors 500 miles ahead,
The circumference of the Lake Superior Circle.

I lift her through the first three gears
Quickly,
Needle pauses with the shift at 5 and 10 and 25.
I give her a taste of her strength in fourth
Twisting the throttle hard to 60.
She screams joy in acceleration,
Driving me back into the seat.

Pop her in 5th, glide to 70
Gently.
Road gear, road speed.
“Little bike runs,
Little bike flies,
Little bike
dances.”

Kilometers roll by
Swiftly.
Slipping over the hills, sliding valleys:
“Little bike runs,
Little bike flies,
Little bike
dances.”

Cars and trucks and a bus or two,
Neatly,
We float past, and some few
Whistle
Past us, tires loose on the glimmering asphalt.
Bending into the curve,
“Little bike runs,
Little bike flies,
Little bike
dances.”

The peace descends that passes all understanding
The blues and greens of Ontario reeling past,
Until
She says:
“Harley! Two Harleys!”

Not Harleys, I say,
Yamaha, Honda, 1800s.
“Big bike, big bike,” she says.

The needle has inched up.
Seventy-three.
Easy Tiger, they are coming back without a chase.
Seventy again and closing.
Signal on, ease her across the line,
Seventy-five floats her by.
“Passing
Passing
Passing
Look out big bikes
Little bike is–
Passing.”

Reversing the signal,
Leaning
To the right,
back to seventy.
“Little bike runs,
Little bike flies,
Little bike
dances.”

The peace descends that passes all understanding,
The Ontario greens and blues flash by,
Until,
“Harley, Harley,
a flock of
Harleys.”
Indeed yes, five Harleys,
Pompously farting thunder in staggered formation.

Take it down, take it down, they are going
Fifty-five?
I back off the throttle, climb on the brake.
We now follow,
Cocked to their left,
Crowding the stripe,
Headlight bright in their mirrors

She growls her irritation at
crawling the curves.
“Showemmydust,
Showemmydust
Showemmydust
Lemme
showemydust.”

In time, patience, we need room.
Stretching in the saddle,
Searching over a quarter mile of lumbering metal,
Looking for the opening.

It’s coming, after that semi, it’s coming,
Now!
I slam her down to fourth, open the throttle.
She shrieks back to seventy.
Clutch in, throttle closed,
Kick her to fifth, clutch out, throttle opened,
A roar of sucking air and then the scream,
Battle cry,
Valkyrie
“Passing, passing, passing
Little bike
Paass
sing.”

Through the wind bounced visor
I watch the needle tremble
It is eighty,
It is eighty-five,
It is ninety, I cannot read it.

Hanging desperately by fingers
Vision blurred with vibration
I gauge the oncoming headlights,
Just in time,
I pull right, hand off the throttle.
“Watchyadoin,
Watchyadoin,
Watchyadoin,
Watchyadoin,
Watchyadoin.”

Backingoff, backing off, its
Over.
“Lemmerun
Lemmerun
Lemmerun.”

Too hard, too tough, too painful.
“I can doit,
I can doit,
I can doit.”

Five Harleys, for now,
Enough.

“Little bike eats Harleys,
Little bike chews Harleys,
Little bike spits Harleys.”

 

Calm, calm, calm,
We are back now to sixty-five,
Return power to speed,
Settle at seventy.

After a
Pause,

“Little bike runs,
Little bike flies,
Little bike
dances.”

“Little bike runs
Little bike flies,
Little bike
Dances.”

Thank God,
That at least one of us is not
Competitive.